James S.A. Corey's Blog
December 16, 2014
So you know when a bad thing happens to a dear friend, and you have to be very solemn inside even though the way it came down actually makes your own life WAY WAY better?
So, a little after the fact, I need to offer my condolences to everyone over at George RR Martin’s office for the unfortunate loss of his minion, Pat.
And TOTALLY UNRELATED, I’d like to introduce James SA Corey’s new minion, Pat!
Y’all will be seeing more of her around in the weeks and years to come. Please join me in a welcoming round of applause. And no, she won’t tell you who ends up on the Iron Throne. EVEN THOUGH SHE PROBABLY KNOWS.
November 4, 2014
Cibola Burn, the fourth book in the expanding Expanse series was nominated in the first round of the reader’s choice poll. If the urge strikes you, you should go vote for your favorite books of the year. There are some great choices in every category.
November 1, 2014
Which means we need to have a chat about casting choices.
We’ve been waiting for this.
The news has finally been released about the cast for The Expanse. The first thing we want to say is that we’re freaking delighted by all of them. We’ve seen a lot of actors trying out for these roles, and we’re very grateful to all of them. There’s nothing like enthusiasm for a project, and we were incredibly lucky to have the interest in The Expanse that we did. For every role we were trying to cast, there were a lot of amazingly talented, hard-working actors who tried out and didn’t get in. That was the worst part of the process by far. The best part: getting the team we got.
We’ve started filming already, and things are looking good. When it does finally roll out where all y’all can see it, we think you’ll be pleased too.
That said, we wanted to sit down a minute and talk about one of the decisions that we made about the Belters. Specifically: Not All Belters Are Tall. There’s reasons for this.
Going into this, we all talked a lot about how to approach translating Belters from prose into a visual medium. In the books, we make a point of how the bodies of people who’ve grown up in microgravity are changed by it. Taller frames, larger heads. Discomfort in high g. We floated ideas like using Lord of the Rings-esque special effects or having the Belter actors on stands and stilts. Or – and why I wanted to talk about it now – only hiring tall, skinny actors for those parts.
When you’re casting something like this, you want the best actors, but packed into that are a bunch of implicit obstacles: The best actor who is available. The best actor who is enthusiastic about the role. The best actor you can afford. Otherwise, Meryl Streep would be in everything. Those obstacles are unavoidable.
Then there’s another tier of obstacles. The ones that you might be able to bend on. The best actor who looks the way you had in mind. The best actor with the kind of accent you wanted. The best actor who’s name is already in the public consciousness. The best actor who has a real chemistry with the other actors you’ve already cast. The best actor who’s the same ethnicity as the character you had in mind. The best actor who’s tall.
If everything’s a priority, then nothing is.
We were involved in the decision to not require that every Belter be tall and skinny. It was the right choice. The pool of actors – especially of women – over 6’2″ is really quite small, and by having a wider group to select from, we got to prioritize things like chemistry and charisma, acting chops and similarity of personality to the character from the book. And race. Let me just tale a minute here to say that both Alcon and Syfy were staunch in their commitment to not whitewash the project, and I appreciate that decision more than I can say.
The other thing is this: people vary. One of the things we tacked against hard in The Expanse was the idea of giving all our Klingons bumpy foreheads. Belters are supposed to be diverse in their language, their culture, their politics, their modes of dress. And yeah, in their bodies. Which is to say, Belters are supposed to be people.
We’re still leaning toward examples on the far ends of the spectrum where we can. You’ll see tall, thin folks over-represented in the Belter population. But you’ll see other things – cultural signifiers, accents (at varying thicknesses), modes of dress – that also go with the Belt.
This isn’t a choice that Syfy made. This is a decision that we, the authors of the books and writers of the show, made and the other players involved backed us on.
And because of it, we’ve got a hell of good cast. And more than anything else, that’s what we wanted. We’re paraphrasing one of our producers when we say, “Height doesn’t act.” This became a truism for our show. If we get a great actor, people will quickly forget that they’re not quite as tall as their book counterpart. If we get a bad actor, no amount of height will save the performance.
So join us in welcoming this stellar group of people to the world of The Expanse. Give them a chance to blow you away with what they’re bringing to the roles. We think you’ll be happy you did.
October 18, 2014
If any of y’all are in Denver this coming weekend, James SA Corey (meaning both me *and* Ty) are among the guest of honor at this year’s Mile Hi Con along with the fairly gorgeous slate of Michael Swanwick, and Phil & Kaja Foglio. Jeanne Stein will be Toastmaster.
Our schedule looks like this:
3:00 – 3:50: Science Fiction in the Solar System: Keeping It Realisitic
7:15 – 7:45: Opening Ceremonies
8:00 – 9:00 Autograph Alley
10:00 – God Knows: Artemis Bridge Simulation
11:00 – 12:00: Spaceships WeHave Loved
2:00 – 3:00: Autographing
11:00 – 12:30: Guest of Honor Remarks & Awards
3:00 – 4:00 An Hour with James SA Corey
5:00 – 6:00 Closing Ceremonies
Come play if you’re of a mind.
September 20, 2014
So I’m still in the middle of a bunch of Really Cool Work, but there were a few things I wanted to pop on the Internet and mention. Many of these are also cool.
1) The Long Price Quartet is finally going to be on audio. A Shadow in Summer is already up for preorder.
2) I did an interview with my friend Cameron Goble that has been made available online.
3) Things are going well with the TV show. There has been some more casting done with which I am *very* pleased. There’s no official announcement yet, but I imagine it’ll start leaking out one place & another.
Also, if anyone’s waiting to hear back from me on Facebook or Twitter, you’re still better off dropping a comment here on the blog for the next couple months.
August 17, 2014
Well, the summer’s over and I’m a little behind where I wanted to be. The TV show, it turns out, could easily have been a full time job all on its own. But since we’re not giving *that* up, I (Daniel) am dropping off Twitter & Facebook for a couple three months. And, to make sure I don’t cheat, I’ve had my Darling Wife change my passwords.
I’ve also deleted my favorite games and news apps.
If y’all need to get ahold of me, you can leave a comment here. Or kick back until November or so when I get back.
August 8, 2014
August 2, 2014
So, it’s been pointed out that we’ve been pretty Expanse-centric around here of late — and for decent reason, I think — but there are other things going on. So, for those keeping score at home, here’s how things stand:
Ty and I are both at Bubonicon this weekend. If you’re in Albuquerque, do stop by.
The Widow’s House — fourth and penultimate book of The Dagger and the Coin — launches Tuesday (though there are a few early copies at Bubonicon). I’m heading up to an event Tuesday night in Santa Fe at the Cocteau where George RR Martin and I will sit around with whoever shows up and chew the fat.
The final book — The Spider’s War — will be out next year, finishing out the five-book outline that I pitched back when this all started.
3) A Game of Graphic Novels
It’s not out yet, but I’ve turned in my final script for the Game of Thrones graphic novels, and — things being what they are — I’m sitting out the next round. I expect that there will be a series of graphic novels for Clash of Kings, and I’m doing what I can to help build and support the creative team that’s taking it over. It was a great process, and a fun project.
If you didn’t know, I’ve been doing a series of articles at Clarkesworld for a while now. The latest one just went up.
So, I’ve been putting off talking about this one for a while.
I started writing a series of urban fantasy novels a while back called The Black Sun’s Daughter. It was originally proposed as a ten-book series, but it’s pretty clear at this point that we’re only getting as far as 5 — Graveyard Child, which came out April of last year.
I have enjoyed that process, and I have nothing but praise for Pocket Books and the editorial, production, and publicity staff who helped carry it through. Publishing is a form of gambling, and while I stand by the quality of the books and the project they were embarked on, the fact is that sales on the last couple books weren’t great. Graveyard Child sold about half as much in its opening week at Killing Rites did in its. The sales for Killing Rites were actually low enough, that the writing was on the wall even back then. Pocket were kind enough to give me a contract for the one more book to let me get the story to a place where we could step away without leaving it at a cliff hanger.
And you? What’re you up to?
July 15, 2014
Sometimes you start something really big and complicated – like entering a whole new kind of business for instance – and you really really hope that things are going to go well? Yeah, so about that . . .
A few months ago, it was announced that SyFy, Sean Daniel Company, and Alcon Entertainment had made a deal to make The Expanse into a TV show. Ten episodes, straight to series (which means we wouldn’t be making a pilot episode and then hoping that it got picked up – the deal was to just march straight ahead), with the two of us attached as producers which we figured meant doing pretty much anything we could to help support Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, who wrote the script for the first episode and agreed to spearhead the show. We came out to Los Angeles in . . . Jeez April, I think? We settled in to work, promising news as soon as we had it.
Detective MillerAnd then we went dark. It turns out releasing news about this kind of thing has an etiquette all its own. Even now, there are a bunch of things we know that we don’t get to tell you. But there is now some stuff to share.
First off, casting. This isn’t an easy project to cast. We were hoping to get as many folks to come play who both grokked genre and also knew how to do first-rate mainstream work. With that in mind, the role of Detective Miller is going to be played by Thomas Jane. Who, if you don’t know him, was designed in a government lab for the role. Seriously. He’d done The Punisher and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World and Stephen King’s The Mist and Dreamcatcher. The man knows his genre chops. And he’s also been in Boogie Nights and Magnolia and The Thin Red Line. And Hung, where he got the three Golden Globe nominations. He can play tough, he can play vulnerable, and most of all he can play someone who’s well-bruised by the world. There was a while there I was afraid we weren’t going to get him, but ever since we have, I’ve been tracking down clips of his performances and feeling like I just found a Banksy print in my alley. It’s that level of cool.
And then there’s the director. I was unaware coming in of how important the first director is in a new show like this. Turns out, sort of critical, because whatever they do, however they approach the show, it pretty much sets the tone for everyone who comes after. We already had a fair amount of Breaking Bad in our project’s DNA because we were working with Sharon Hall who developed it back when she was at Sony.
So now we have more.
Terry McDonough did several episodes of Breaking Bad, including the one called Better Call Saul which was for my money one of the best hours of one of the best shows in my lifetime. I didn’t know it, but I’d actually seen his work the first time years ago in a show called Wire in the Blood that I still remember. He’s won the BAFTA and Royal Television Society (UK) Awards. When they were talking to him about our show, he was actually in my hometown working with the folks on Better Call Saul. If you’re looking for someone who can take the project and see complex characters in serious conflicts, this is kind of your guy. He’s not one of the people who looks down on SF. He directed Brian Cox in Doctor Who: An Adventure in Time and Space and just got a Hugo nomination for it. He directed Patrick Stewart in The Eleventh Hour. Between his instincts for nuance and humanity and his track record for making character-centered, award-winning television, he’s a brilliant fit.
And then there’s the look of the sets and costumes, which I don’t get to show you. I can say this: we’ve gotten to be involved with a lot of the preliminary design and concept work. This has involved a lot of really cool art and conversations with Richard Taylor and his team at WETA in New Zealand. The folks that did Lord of the Rings. Yeah, them. And the production designer who’s going to take the concept work and carry it through? Seth Reed, who just got an Emmy nomination for Cosmos. And did the art direction on Minority Report and From the Earth to the Moon.
Also, we’ve been spending most of our time in the writer’s room with an amazing group of screenwriters. In addition to Mark and Hawk – who, I would like to say for the record, have some of the best instincts for story I’ve seen anywhere – Naren Shankar has come on board to help out. That might not be a name you know, but he worked as one flavor or another of producer on CSI from 2002 to 2010 while that show was not only one of the best rated but possibly the most visually stylish things on network TV. He’s worked on Star Trek and Farscape and The Outer Limits. And we have other writers who’ve come from shows like Mad Men (seriously, one of our writers has Emmy nominations from Mad Men), and The Killing and Burn Notice.
The adjective people keep using to describe this project is “ambitious.” We’re trying to write something that’s genre but doesn’t rely on a knowledge of genre. We’re trying to film something that’s dark and dramatic and also funny and humane. Something that actually moves the line forward on science fiction television.
You do something like that, you really really hope it’ll go well.
It’s going well.